By Li Yen | Epoch Times Staff
Gratitude opens your heart. If you deal with the anger and sorrow of yesterdays, even if you have a broad road ahead of you, it seems like a tiny road. With gratitude, it gives you an opportunity to look at the brighter side.
– Collin Chee, Former Mediacorp Artiste, Singapore National Football Team Manager (Man) and Marketing Manager (Sumantra, Indonesia)
On Boxing Day in 2015, we met Collin Chee. For fans of local TV, his name might conjure up a familiar face. The former actor – known to most viewers as Qian Han Qun – is a Star Search Finalist in 1993 and one of the lead actors in a 1995 Mediacorp drama ‘Teochew Family’.
22 years later, he still keeps his good looks and chic fashion style, which makes him stand out among all his counterparts. Still more arresting is his personality: he is surprisingly amicable, outgoing and humble. Despite his fashionable appearance, he is a self-confessed ‘old-school’ guy who has many stories about values to share.
When everyone was expecting the Star Search Finalist to climb his way up to stardom, Chee chose to quit acting for his passion – football. He recalled a scene in ‘Teochew Family’ when he kept forgetting his script and was reprimanded by the cameraman, “You are wasting all our time, stupid fool!”
His co-actor, Hong Kong veteran artiste Kenneth Tsang, asked him, “I have been acting with you for two months. It seems that your heart is not there. What do you want to do?”
Chee started questioning himself, and eventually terminated his contract with Mediacorp and began focusing on what he wanted to do – football.
“At that time, I was very much into football. I was a dream chaser. I believe in fairy-tales,” he says.
Chee spent his prime in the fashion industry, acting, modelling and running his own business – a football pub for Liverpool supporters and a western restaurant with a football concept.
In November ‘94 to January ‘95, he went for an attachment with the English Football League, learning about Merchandising Marketing, Match Day Experience, Hospitality and Youth Development. After his return, he became the Chairman of Tiong Bahru Fanclub.
“During 1994 – 1995, when I went to England, everybody was saying I was crazy. But looking back, that was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life,” he says, reminiscing about his past.
He had been appointed Assistant Manager of the Football National Team and was also a Council Member of the Football Association Singapore from 2006-2008.
In 2006, Chee invested S$500,000 to start up the Sporting Afrique Football Club in Singapore’s S.League and brought in players from Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya and Ghana.
Football has been his greatest strength as well as his greatest weakness. The football club business was his big dream, but his dream flopped.
His life plunged into darkness after his Football Club business collapsed. “I was so strong in football, how could I fail?” he kept asking himself and blaming many people.
He had been wallowing in grief for four months before he got the courage to stand on his feet again. His second son was the catalyst. One day, his active son came and gave him a hug, telling him, “Papa, you haven’t had a meal with us for a long time.” He put aside his shame and cried, “Yes, it is time for dinner.”
Instead of bemoaning his life, he decided to make a new start, spurred on by his dedication to his family. “I wasn’t looking at money. I was looking at the people around me suffering because of me. Why did I make everyone around me suffer because of my selfishness, because my big dream flopped?”
“I have no regrets. Because at the end of the day, I had gone through it. The biggest regret I would have is if I run away,” he says, “I realised that in life, there is always a way to get out. Don’t just sit there and hope for miracles to happen.”
It was a toughest move on. In 2007, the man who used to be in the media spotlight went for several interviews and found a job at a headhunting company in Republic Plaza.
He suffered the biggest humiliation when his colleagues laughed at him: he didn’t even know what “Microsoft Windows” was on his first day at work.
He had no sales for the first four months as a headhunter and was nearly fired. “To be honest, I went to the toilet to cry,” he says.
But eventually, he worked tirelessly to achieve outstanding results in the industry.
“People said I was lucky. I said where did ‘luck’ came from? Luck only comes when you work very hard,” Chee says.
He went the extra mile to assist his clients – reaching the office as early as 7.45am, leaving at 10pm and returning there on Saturdays and even Sundays.
In 2009, Chee seized the opportunity to work as a Marketing Manager with AlamJaya WiraSentosa in Medan, Indonesia. He was involved in the strategic planning and network distribution for 40 products with over 650 different prices and sizes across 32,000 register outlets in Sumatra.
It was a “tough yet fun and rewarding” career journey in Indonesia. He says with delight, “I like my team, and they appreciate me. We had laughter. I was tired physically, but mentally I was very motivated. I realised that mental strength somehow was above everything for me.”
He had just finished his contract and returned to Singapore in August last year.
Family is the reason why he came back. He says, “I met many multi-millionaires in Indonesia. And not every rich person is happy. They have money, but probably money is the only thing they have.”
He adds, “That is one of the reasons I came back. And I am not young anymore, coming to 50. How long am I going to stay there? By that time, probably my children couldn’t recognise me.” Chee has two sons and two daughters aged 13 to 18 years old.
A Book with Values
Since his return, Chee has been spending time with his family and fulfilling his new purpose in life – to pen a book with values. He has been writing his book, ‘Life!’, which contains 52 heart-warming stories of values he gleaned from his six years’ stay in Indonesia.
His memories of his days in Indonesia are some of his fondest. His days in Indonesia have taught him that “sometimes the most beautiful thing is the simplest thing in the world”.
Collin Chee’s ‘Life!’ is scheduled to be released in major bookstores this March 2016.
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